The culmination of Accent’s Making Music Visual project, in partnership with the Northern Chamber Orchestra, Dance Teacher, Alicia Graham and the MMU was realised at Parr Hall, Warrington on 16 July 2019. Various incarnations of this project had seen the idea gathering pace for a full year through Accent’s partnership work with other local arts organisations. But it wasn’t until the bid for a National Lottery Fund was successful that the project really crystallised.
The idea of the Making Musical Visual is just that- showcasing pupils’ responses to Music through other art forms including Dance, Drama, Poetry and Visual Art. This particular project used Digital Art, Dance and Composition in response to Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Six schools across Warrington and Halton took part in the project.
Newchurch Primary, Penketh South Primary and Weston Primary focussed on Digital Art: tutors from Manchester Metropolitan University delivered several sessions in each school and Tom Elliot from the Northern Chamber Orchestra also went along to inspire their creations.
Culcheth High School and Penketh High School took a compositional route. The NCO went to both schools to help pupils understand composition and how improvisation alongside an existing work can be the catalyst for new ideas. Looking in depth at Appalachian Spring as a body of work, students created themes and motifs which were stitched together by specially commissioned composer, Jamie Manson into a work in 7 movements entitled ‘Dances from the Wild Woods’.
Finally, 35 dance students from the Heath choreographed the entirety of Copland’s original work using Martha Graham dance techniques, assisted by Alicia Graham of Dance Steps. Rehearsing over the academic year, they brought together a polished performance.
The evening saw the three art forms combined to produce a spectacular and moving performance. NCO performed Appalachian Spring with The Heath Dancers on stage performing their choreography with digital artwork projected onto the stage. Following on from this, the NCO performed the composed piece whilst Dancers utilised some of the motifs from their choreography to perform a structured improvisation to ‘Dances from the Wild Woods’.
Janice Pounds said “This project gave 120 students an opportunity to work with professional musicians and artists. More importantly, the opportunity to participate in a project which gave individuals the chance to express themselves creatively was of huge benefit and value. This project resulted in 70 Arts Awards being achieved, and Accent MEH really hopes to offer this type of work in the future.”